What are the Differences between a Dentist and Dental Hygienist?

It’s important to go to the dentist at least twice a year and get your teeth checked and cleaned even if you don’t have any serious dental problems. During those visits you may notice that there are two different people that may work on your teeth. The first person that you see comes in and cleans your teeth which is the dental hygienist. The second person is the actual dentist who can perform fillings for cavities and does the work to repair your teeth. The dentist and the dental hygienist usually work together but there are some key differences between them.

Dentist vs Dental Hygienist

  • One of the major differences between a dentist and a dental hygienist is the amount of education they have. Dentist have a degree and then attend 4 years of dental school where as dental hygienist only need a two year associate degree in dental hygiene. Both have to pass exams to be licensed to work but a dentist’s must get a license specific to the state they are practicing dentistry in.
  • Dental hygienist usually meet with you before the dentist and discuss how to properly care for your teeth. They also clean your teeth and check for gingivitis or oral disease that you may have. Dentists come in after to diagnose any problems, examine x-rays, repair teeth, prescribe medicine, perform procedures like root canals, fillings for cavities, dental crowns and much more. Dentists are able to provide more skilled treatment whereas dental hygienists provide more general teeth care.
  • Another major difference is the pay that dentists receive. Since dentists are actual doctors they are paid more than dental hygienists which means their time is more costly for patients. There are two times more dental hygienists than dentists according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, so it is more efficient to meet with a dental hygienist first for general cleanings and care.

These are some of the major differences between dentists and dental hygienists, yet both are trained to provide great care for your teeth. If you’re looking for a new dentist or have any dental questions contact Greenspoint Dental.